|9/23/2019 10:47:00 AM|
Valdez no-show at motion hearing, bench warrant issued
|Friday the 13th has been said to be unlucky and for Austin D. Valdez, 21, charged with first degree reckless homicide when he fatally shot his stepfather Robin Reeson on March 24, 2018, it proved to be just that.|
Valdez answered to this charge in February, which resulted in a mistrial by Grant County Judge Craig Day. A retrial is scheduled at this time for December 16-20.
A motion hearing took place on Friday September 13, with appearances by Valdez's defense attorney Jeremiah Wolfgang Meyer O'Day, State Attorney General Amber Hahn representing the state and the honorable Judge William Andrew Sharp.
Meyer O'Day informed the court Friday that he received a phone call late Thursday night from Valdez that his vehicle broke down and was unable to find a ride.
Sharp said, "Well, he has to appear. This is a felony case and he has no authorization not to appear."
A motion was filed by Attorney General Hahn on September 9 for an amended charge. Hahn intends to charge the defendant with first degree intentional homicide. The court document says "Upon review of all case materials, including the transcript of the previous jury trial, the State believes this charge most accurately fits the evidence in this case and therefore is more likely to result in a verdict."
Valdez's attorney filed a response saying that the State "may only amend the information after arraignment, but prior to trial when such amendment will not prejudice the defendant." Meyer O'Day argued that if Valdez had prior notice to his first trial that the charge would be first degree intentional homicide, the defense would have been slightly different from what was presented at trial. He also pointed out that Valdez has been present to all of his hearings, until this most current one.
He also stated that since Friday's hearing was non-evidentiary that it was enough to waive Valdez's physical appearance and that teleconferencing was sufficient. He has also requested a change of venue during trial. The State has not issued bail at this time.
Hahn said that statue waives physical appearance only in misdemeanors.
"These matters are too important of a motion to change venue and the motion to amend information, to not be certain," Hahn added. Although she acknowledged that Valdez may not flee, the amended information calls for a higher penalty.
Sharp felt that it was necessary for Valdez to appear in order to proceed, thus issuing the bench warrant for his arrest.
A status conference took place on Tuesday, where Valdez made his appearance. Judge Sharp informed Valdez, that it is important to be present in all of his sessions due to the gravity of the charge. The bench warrant was thus lifted, and Valdez was released.
A motion hearing is scheduled for September 26, 2019 at 9:30 a.m.
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